Telling Tales at the V&A

I and the Mediaevalist spent Saturday afternoon wandering around the V&A, starting with their delightful Telling Tales exhibition (warning: plays sound effects at you). It’s concerned with design “in the spirit of storytelling”, and does it rather well. The first area of three is an enchanted glade, subdivided with forest-patterned drapes and filled with interesting, whimsical, somewhat threatening furniture; the second, the castle, is divided in two. To the left we have neo-Regency, more or less in the style of Perrault on postmodernism, and to the right we have gleaming mirrored walls and floor (which reflected the gallery lighting, sadly, but it could have been a lot worse) with a selection of “Robber Baron” furniture and some rather strange and whimsical tulip vases.

The last section of the three is entitled “Heaven and Hell”, which is normally a bad sign, but the conceit behind this – works exploring psychoanalysis, the idea of the memento mori, and the tension between life & death – worked out. So we have cute huggable mushroom clouds, a sensory isolation chamber modelled on a skull, and a “Lovers’ Rug” representing the quantity of blood in two peoples’ bodies. This section interested and enthused me less than the other two, but I suspect that that’s as much down to the curatorial design – a rather dim, cramped uterus-shaped black corridor, with oddly positioned windows into well-lit rooms with the exhibits – as the art.


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